Anthony de la Roché: Wikis

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Voyage of the English merchant
Anthony de la Roché in 1675

Anthony de la Roché, 17th century, (spelled also Antoine de la Roché, Antonio de la Roché or Antonio de la Roca in some sources) was an English merchant born in London to French Huguenot father and English mother. During a commercial voyage between Europe and South America he was blown off course, and visited the Antarctic island of South Georgia, making the first ever discovery of land south of the Antarctic Convergence.[1]

Contents

Discovery of South Georgia

Drygalski Fjord, the possible place of la Roché's stay in South Georgia

Having acquired a 350-ton ship in Hamburg and obtained permission by the Spanish authorities to trade in Spanish America, la Roché called on the Canary Islands in May, 1674 and in October that year arrived in the port of Callao in the Viceroyalty of Peru by way of Le Maire Strait and Cape Horn. On his return voyage, sailing from Chiloé Island (Chile) to Bahia de Todos os Santos (Salvador, Brazil), in April 1675 la Roché rounded Cape Horn and was overwhelmed by tempestuous conditions in the tricky waters off Staten Island (Isla de los Estados). His ship failed to make Le Maire Strait as desired, nor round the east extremity of Staten Island (i.e. make the mythical ‘Brouwer's Strait’ present on the old maps since the 1643 Dutch expedition of Admiral Hendrik Brouwer), and was carried far away to the east instead. Eventually they found refuge in one of South Georgia’s southern bays — possibly Drygalski Fjord according to some experts — where the battered ship anchored for a fortnight.

Drygalski Fjord

According to the surviving narrative published shortly after the event, “they found a Bay, in which they anchored close to a Point or Cape which stretches out to the Southeast with 28. 30. and 40. fathoms Sand and Rock”. The surrounding glaciated, mountainous terrain was described as “some Snow Mountains near the Coast, with much bad Weather.” Once the weather cleared up the ship set sail, and while rounding the southeast extremity of South Georgia they sighted Clerke Rocks further to the southeast. La Roché successfully reached the Brazilian port of Salvador, and eventually arrived in La Rochelle, France on 29 September 1675.[2][3][4][5][6]

Captain James Cook was aware of la Roché's discovery, mentioning it in his ship journal upon approaching South Georgia in January 1775 to make the first landing and first map of the island, take possession for Britain as mandated by the Admiralty, and rename the island ‘Isle of Georgia’ for King George III.[7]

Early landing on Gough Island

Diego Alvarez (Gough) Island

Several days after his departure from South Georgia la Roché came across another uninhabited island, “where they found water, wood and fish”, and spent six days “without seeing any human being”, thus making what some historians believe was the first landing on the South Atlantic island of Diego Alvarez discovered by the Portuguese navigator Gonçalo Álvarez in 1505 or 1506 (and known as Gough Island since 1731).[2][8]

Maps showing la Roché's discovery

Soon after the voyage cartographers started to depict on their maps ‘Roché Island’, and ‘Straits de la Roche’ separating the island from an ‘Unknown Land’ to the southeast, honouring the discoverer. In particular, the newly discovered island appeared on the following 18th century maps:

Fragment of Seale's map (ca. 1745) featuring ‘Roche Island’

The second ever map of South Georgia made in 1802 by Captain Isaac Pendleton of the American sealing vessel Union and reproduced by the Italian polar cartographer A. Faustini in 1906, was entitled ‘South Georgia; Discovered by the Frenchman La Roche in the year 1675’. (Pendleton erred regarding la Roché's nationality due to his French last name.)[9]

Honour

1802 Map of South Georgia (Cpt. Isaac Pendleton)

Roché Peak, the highest feature on Bird Island, South Georgia is named for Anthony de la Roché.[10]

See also

References

  1. ^ Headland, Robert K. (1984). The Island of South Georgia, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0 521 25274 1
  2. ^ a b Capt. de Seixas y Lovera, Francisco. (1690). Descripción geographica y derrotero de la región austral Magallánica. Que se dirige al Rey nuestro señor, gran monarca de España, y sus dominios en Europa, Emperador del Nuevo Mundo Americano, y Rey de los reynos de la Filipinas y Malucas. Madrid, Antonio de Zafra. (Relevant fragment)
  3. ^ Dalrymple, Alexander. (1771). A Collection of Voyages Made to the Ocean Between Cape Horn and Cape of Good Hope. Two volumes. London.
  4. ^ Matthews, L.H. (1931). South Georgia: The British Empire's Sub-Antarctic Outpost. Bristol: John Wright; and London: Simpkin Marshall.
  5. ^ Headland, Robert K. (1990). Chronological List of Antarctic Expeditions and Related Historical Events. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-30903-4
  6. ^ Capt. Ferrer Fougá, Hernán. (2003). El hito austral del confín de América. El cabo de Hornos. (Siglos XVI-XVII-XVIII). (Primera parte). Revista de Marina, Valparaíso, N° 6.
  7. ^ Cook, James. (1777). A Voyage Towards the South Pole, and Round the World. Performed in His Majesty's Ships the Resolution and Adventure, In the Years 1772, 1773, 1774, and 1775. In which is included, Captain Furneaux's Narrative of his Proceedings in the Adventure during the Separation of the Ships. Volume II. London: Printed for W. Strahan and T. Cadell. (Relevant fragment)
  8. ^ Wace, N.M. (1969). The discovery, exploitation and settlement of the Tristan da Cunha Islands. Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia (South Australian Branch) 10: 11-40.
  9. ^ Faustini, A. (1906). Di una carta nautica inedita della Georgia Austral. Revista Geografica Italiana, Firenze, 13(6), 343-51.
  10. ^ USGS Geographic Names Information System: Antarctica
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